Continuing the idea of workflow and reducing accidents (from blog post “”), where we used the metaphor of road intersection structures as key to reducing collisions between cars to illustrate how interactions between colleagues can be structured to reduce collisions.
The same holds true for financial flows in businesses, and any other capitals; e.g. human capital, intellectual etc.
In the beginning, companies were designed for capital to flow in a cycle, to be preserved as a minimum, and hopefully multiplied. However, natural, human and other resources flowed through without any need to preserve them or multiply them.
Today, it’s clear to most people, that we have reached the limit of seeing natural and human resources as resources. We’ve reached the point where we must start seeing them as capitals. Capitals that need to be at least preserved and ideally multiplied as they flow through companies and from company to company.
We know we need to become sustainable in how we work with all capitals. Financial, natural, human, etc. So far, most of what is said and written about how to do this, puts all of the responsibility on the managers.
The purpose of a business is to get these capitals to flow. Businesses process the incoming flow into higher value outgoing flow. Value is reduced, or destroyed completely, if the business processes are weak. The worst is when any capital (e.g. natural) only flows in once and then gets dumped.
That is akin to a head-on collision destroying a car and its driver. Other things reducing flow can be compared to minor collisions and near-misses.
Company leaders are the “drivers” in control of this flow. But they can only do what is possible given the “roads” they have to drive on.
It is time that we applied what we’ve learnt in the past hundred years from preventing collisions in traffic, conserving the value of what is flowing in traffic, to business, and preserving the value of financial, human and natural capital.
This means redesigning the very structure and rules of flow that financial, natural, and human capital flow along in business. No longer simply using our natural social ways of talking to each other in business, we must start using highly structured ways of talking. (Such as in Dojo4Life, the Art of Participatory Leadership, etc.)
Further, in the design of company articles or constitutions, we need to continue the progress that we’ve been making over the past few decades, with things like the B Corp, community interest companies and new types of cooperatives. We need to use Fair Share designs that respect all capitals equally. (As used by, e.g., Dojo4Life.) We also need to use product designs described in the Circular Economy etc. We need to integrate all these, and it will work smoothly and well for all.
Just as a well-designed road system works well for all, from pedestrians to heavy transport.